Slave to the Grind

Slave to the Grind is the second studio album by American heavy metal band Skid Row, released on June 11, 1991 by Atlantic Records. The album displayed harsher sound than its predecessor and lyrics that avoided hard rock cliches. Slave to the Grind is the first heavy metal album to chart at number one on the Billboard 200 in the Nielsen SoundScan era, selling 134,000 copies in its opening week. The album was certified 2× platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 1998 for shipping two million copies in the United States. It produced five singles: "Monkey Business", "Slave to the Grind", "Wasted Time", "In a Darkened Room" and "Quicksand Jesus", all of which did not receive significant airplay as the singles from the previous record. Skid Row promoted the album opening for Guns N' Roses in 1991 and as a headliner the following year.

Slave to the Grind
Cover art by David Bierk
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 11, 1991 (1991-06-11)
StudioNew River Studios in Fort Lauderdale, Florida,
Scream Studios in Studio City, California
GenreHeavy metal
ProducerMichael Wagener
Skid Row chronology
Skid Row
Slave to the Grind
B-Side Ourselves
Singles from Slave to the Grind
  1. "Monkey Business"
    Released: May 1991
  2. "Slave to the Grind"
    Released: June 1991
  3. "Wasted Time"
    Released: October 1991
  4. "In a Darkened Room"
    Released: November 25, 1991
  5. "Quicksand Jesus"
    Released: 1992

Composition and recordingEdit

Skid Row wrote most of Slave to the Grind in a New Jersey studio and demoed the tracks with Michael Wagener, who produced their previous album. Recording took place at two studios: New River in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Scream in Studio City, California. Slave to the Grind marked the band's move toward a heavier sound, with the title track verging on speed metal.[1] The lyrics were more complex, criticizing modern ways of life, authority, politics, drugs, and organized religion, among other topics. Wagener said the demoing and pre-production went well, and the title track was recorded and mixed in an hour, and was placed on the album without being remixed.[2]

During a February 2017 interview for the Backspin segment of Yahoo Music, Bach revealed that the version of the title track included in the finished album is actually the original demo the band recorded during pre-production with producer Michael Wagener. The band recorded a proper version during the album sessions, but were unable to match the intensity of the demo, and therefore opted to use the latter instead.[3]

Cover artEdit

Sebastian Bach's father, David Bierk, painted the cover art, which is actually a long mural, continued inside the album's booklet.[4] Although it is set in the medieval era, it depicts people using modern technological gadgets. The cover was inspired by Caravaggio's Burial of St. Lucy from 1608 and shows John F. Kennedy in the crowd.

Release and promotionEdit

When recording finished, Skid Row opened for Guns N' Roses on the 1991 North American leg of their Use Your Illusion Tour.[4] In 1992, Skid Row took Pantera and Soundgarden as supporting bands on its Slave to the Grind Tour.[5] Two different versions of the album were released: the original and a "clean" version, in which "Get the Fuck Out" is replaced with the less-offensive "Beggar's Day".[6] Music videos were produced for all five singles: "Monkey Business", "Slave to the Grind", "Wasted Time", "In a Darkened Room" and "Quicksand Jesus", all of which feature on the video album No Frills Video. Skid Row's label Atlantic Records was not supportive of the group's transformation when filming the video for the title track. The label wanted a bikini model to star in the video, but the idea was turned down by the band because the song was not about female sexuality.[6] A music video was also made for "Psycho Love" in 3D which featured on the video album Road Kill.

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [7]
Chicago Tribune    [8]
Christgau's Consumer Guide [9]
Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal9/10[10]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [11]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[12]
Rolling Stone     [13]

Slave to the Grind received mixed reviews by music critics. Spin's Daina Darzin said the album had integrity and passion, and reminded her of early Mötley Crüe and Judas Priest.[14] Martin Popoff called the album "a surprising and welcome jolt to the system", with Skid Row "proving their mettle, their self-worth, their guts" on songs taking the listener "to dark unsettling places where reflection collides with worry."[10] AllMusic's Steve Huey said Slave to the Grind was more aggressive than its predecessor and called it one of the best examples of mainstream heavy metal.[7] Brenda Herrmann of the Chicago Tribune observed that Bolan and Sabo improved their songwriting and wrote positively about the group's attitude and humor.[8] Conversely, Rolling Stone's David Fricke thought Skid Row had not matured lyrically at all, rehashing the glam metal cliches. However, he complimented Wagener's production and the band's interplay and sound.[13] Robert Christgau was less enthusiastic and graded the album a "dud", indicating "a bad record whose details rarely merit further thought".[9] Janiss Garza of the Entertainment Weekly praised the ballads' lyrical depth and the fury of "Riot Act" and the title track, giving the album an A-.[12]

Slave to the Grind debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 134,000 copies in its first week.[15] The album was the first to debut atop the Billboard 200 in the Nielsen SoundScan era, since it was uncommon for albums to open at number one before SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991.[16]

Track listingEdit

1."Monkey Business"Rachel Bolan, Dave Sabo4:20
2."Slave to the Grind"Sebastian Bach, Bolan, Sabo3:31
3."The Threat"Bolan, Sabo3:52
4."Quicksand Jesus"Bolan, Sabo5:26
5."Psycho Love"Bolan3:58
6."Get the Fuck Out"Bolan, Sabo2:42
7."Livin' on a Chain Gang"Bolan, Sabo4:00
8."Creepshow"Bolan, Rob Affuso, Scotti Hill3:59
9."In a Darkened Room"Bach, Bolan, Sabo[†]3:57
10."Riot Act"Bolan, Sabo2:42
11."Mudkicker"Bach, Bolan, Hill3:56
12."Wasted Time"Bach, Bolan, Sabo5:50

^ † Album liner notes incorrectly list the length as 4:57.


Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.[17]

Skid RowEdit


  • Michael Wagener – producer, mixing
  • Riley J. Connell – assistant engineer
  • Craig Doubet – assistant engineer
  • George Marino – mastering
  • Bob Defrin – art direction


Chart Peak
Australian Albums Chart[18] 3
Austrian Albums Chart[18] 16
Canadian Albums Chart[19] 8
German Albums Chart[18] 12
Japanese Albums Chart[20] 3
New Zealand Albums Chart[18] 8
Norwegian Albums Chart[18] 12
Swedish Albums Chart[18] 9
Swiss Albums Chart[18] 15
UK Albums Chart[21] 5
US Billboard 200[22] 1


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[23] Gold 35,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[24] Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[25] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[26] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ Wiederhorn, Jon (June 11, 2015). "24 Years Ago: Skid Row Release 'Slave to the Grind'". Loudwire. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  2. ^ "Producer Michael Wagener Looks Back On M The Grind'". January 15, 2015. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  3. ^ "Backspin: Sebastian Bach on 'Slave to the Grind'". Yahoo!. February 1, 2017. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  4. ^ a b Wild, David (September 19, 1991). "Skid Row: Pretty Bad Boys". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  5. ^ "Sebastian Bach: Remembering Dimebag Darrell". December 30, 2004. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Rivadavia, Eduardo (June 11, 2016). "25 Years Ago: Skid Row Come Back Heavier With 'Slave to the Grind'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  7. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "Skid Row – Slave to the Grind". AllMusic. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  8. ^ a b Herrmann, Brenda (July 11, 1991). "Skid Row – Slave to the Grind (Atlantic)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
  9. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "CG: Skid Row". Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  10. ^ a b Popoff, Martin (August 1, 2007). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 3: The Nineties. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. pp. 401–402. ISBN 978-1-894959-62-9.
  11. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 2899. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  12. ^ a b Garza, Janiss (June 21, 1991). "Slave To the Grind". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  13. ^ a b Fricke, David (August 22, 1991). "Skid Row: Slave To The Grind". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on October 2, 2007. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  14. ^ Darzin, Daina (August 1991). "Skid Row – Slave to the Grind". Spin: 99. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  15. ^ Holden, Stephen (June 22, 1991). "Billboard's New Charts Roil the Record Industry". The New York Times. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
  16. ^ Caulfield, Keith (March 24, 2016). "Billboard 200 Turns 60!". Billboard. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
  17. ^ Slave to the Grind liner notes. Atlantic Records. 1991.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g "Skid Row – Slave to the Grind" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  19. ^ "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada: Top Albums/CDs". RPM. Archived from the original on May 19, 2011. Retrieved June 3, 2010.
  20. ^ "Skid Row Chart History". Oricon. Retrieved September 12, 2010.
  21. ^ "Chart Stats – Skid Row". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  22. ^ "Skid Row – Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  23. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia’s Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 255.
  24. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Skid Row – Slave to the Grind". Music Canada.
  25. ^ "British album certifications – Skid Row – Slave to the Grind". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Slave to the Grind in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  26. ^ "American album certifications – Skid Row – Slave to the Grind". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External linksEdit